Leslie Bloudoff
 
May 21, 2023 | Leslie Bloudoff

Tempranillo... a beautiful balance of earth 'n fruit

The Tempranillo grape is a unique varietal. Berries grow in tight clusters, thick-skinned and a deep dark color, bordering on black. These grapes bud early and ripen early, and because of Lodi’s climate and soil structure, they grow well in our sandy loam. Hot summer days and cool evenings, courtesy of the Delta breeze, mimic that of Northern Spain, where this grape is said to originate.

An old variety, with records dating to 1807, Tempranillo was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago. It is one of the top varieties blended into Port wine from Portugal, and the fourth most widely planted variety in the world.

But its’ unique profile stems from the winemaker, and the techniques that they use to create this full-bodied red wine. If you have the opportunity to taste one, or a few, you’ll notice certain characteristic flavors: juicy red and dark fruit, such as cherry, plum, and dried fig. The 2018 Tempranillo was aged approximately five years in oak, so you’ll likely note vanilla, perhaps tobacco, maybe even a bit of cocoa powder.

Our Tempranillo is full-bodied, bursting with flavor and gripping tannins. This wine will only grow richer as it ages, with deeper, darker fruit notes, maybe a hint of leather, and layers of balanced tannins and acidity. Once you taste it, you’ll quickly begin to appreciate its’ signature flavors, as well as those intense tannins. It is truly a dazzling surprise of earthy and fruity for your palate!

Thanks to its’ earthy and savory notes, Tempranillo pairs well with a variety of foods. Think grilled meats, veggies, and smoked foods. But don’t forget Mexican food: tacos, burritos, nachos, and chili, as well as corn-based dishes, even steak. 

Whatever food you select, this wine will deliver juicy fruit flavors and heat. This is a wine that you buy extra bottles, then store appropriately and wait. As it ages, it will only grow richer in both color and complexity. It’s a wine to enjoy and share.

 

 

Time Posted: May 21, 2023 at 6:33 PM Permalink to Tempranillo... a beautiful balance of earth 'n fruit Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
May 7, 2023 | Leslie Bloudoff

Bella Blanca is the 'possibility' wine

 

Do you remember those mornings when you woke up, refreshed, and ready for a day filled with endless possibilities? Seriously.

When I was younger, I remember those mornings. A lazy Saturday or Sunday, perhaps the first day of Spring Break or summer vacation, and the day belonged to you. I’ve tried describing that feeling to my partner, who humors me, but doesn’t really get it. But that’s what Bella Blanca is. It’s that day that’s filled with possibilities. Your day.

Think lazy afternoon linked with beautiful early summer weather, blue skies, soft breeze, and a lounge chair under a big leafy tree with your name on it. That’s Bella Blanca!

This varietal is primarily composed of the Symphony grape. Symphony is a California crossing of two grape varietals: Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. Generally used in white wine blends, it has an aromatic characteristic with slightly spicy flavors. Think honeysuckle, gardenia, orange blossom and the heavenly scent of a juicy summer peach. Yep, it is that lovely and that memorable.

The best part, it’s not widely used and hasn’t yet caught on in popularity, which means, endless possibilities. It’s a wine that appeals across palates. I call it my “Sister Summer Sippin’ Wine.” Pour a chilled glass, sit out under that tree in that lounge, and I can get whatever intel that I need from my family. Even the members of our group that love their big reds will sit ‘n sip this seductive white wine.

It has a lightly citrusy taste with mild acidity and a hint of sweetness, but it’s refreshing. With each sip, the fruit will open on your palate, and you’ll begin to savor a variety of floral and stone fruit flavors. 

Bella Blanca is our featured Wine of the Month for May. We invite you to come in, enjoy a taste or a glass, then take 10% off your purchase when you buy two or more bottles. Wine Club members can combine their discounts. 

But I warn you, it is indeed addictive, and you’ll need several bottles for the upcoming warm summer months. After all, summer days are filled with endless possibilities, and you’ll need some of that “Summer Sippin’ Wine” to share with friends ‘n family underneath the trees or out on the patio. It’s that good!

Time Posted: May 7, 2023 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Bella Blanca is the 'possibility' wine Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
April 7, 2023 | Leslie Bloudoff

April's Wine of the Month: Viognier

Purchase 2 or more bottles and receive 10% off! Wine club members take an extra 10%!

The sun is shining, the puddles have dried up [okay, most of them], and we’re heading back outdoors to enjoy the Spring colors. What better way to make and share some new memories than by sitting, catching up with family and friends, and sharing a chilled bottle of Viognier (“Vee-own-yay”). This little gem will be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone in the group!

Viognier is a white wine with an aromatic quality which lends itself to a ‘sweet’ scent, while still possessing a deliciously dry finish. Fun Fact: Even though Viognier smells sweet, it’s mostly made as a dry wine with no residual sugar.

Still, you may smell citrus blossoms, honeysuckle, apricot, peach, even pear. But make no mistake, this luscious smelling wine has a vibrant acidity. The taste is crisp, round, and well balanced.

The serving temperature makes all the difference when it comes to Viognier. Cooler bottles tend to have a lively and fruity character, while less-chilled bottles may display more of a flower and honey quality. Here’s the best part. Do your own experiment to discern which you prefer. Pour a well-chilled bottle of our Viognier into a glass and then sip it every few minutes. As the wine in the glass warms, you’ll have the firsthand opportunity to determine which you prefer. 

Paired with food, Viognier can definitely handle richer sauces. It has the ability to mix well with dishes that have a bit of spiciness and/or smokiness. Enjoy it with Thai curries, seared scallops, chicken salads, or grilled lobster. Of course, it’s best appreciated while in the company of your friends and family.

Pick up 2 bottles this month, then head outdoors and celebrate Spring with those you love!

Time Posted: Apr 7, 2023 at 8:00 AM Permalink to April's Wine of the Month: Viognier Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
April 2, 2023 | Leslie Bloudoff

Bud break

Just pause for a moment and take a good look around you today. There’s lots of lush green grass undulating in the breeze, flowering trees, bright yellow mustard weed, and budding vines. Yep, it’s finally spring.

Those of us with vineyards, have been waiting for those charming little buds to pop out on our vines. It heralds the beginning of the growing season and the end to the vines’ winter dormancy. Many winemakers will tell you that the longer that those vines sleep, the later the harvest, and a harvest in mid-to-late September is significantly better than one in the scorching days of August.

So now it’s two-parts excitement, and one-part anxiety. Excitement as in it’s another year, and what will Mother Nature hand us during the next five to seven months in terms of crop yields. Anxiety as in, we’re all now continuing to watch the temperature shifts during the evening and early morning hours as a frost is no longer welcome in our midst.

Grapevines are sensitive to freezing temperatures during the growing season, particularly when the vines bud and send out young shoots. Frost damage not only varies between vineyards, but often within a vineyard. A spring frost often leads to the loss of those lovely fruitful buds, meaning a decreased yield in the vineyard as well as the fruit quality.

Most farmers in this area will employ various vineyard management practices to mitigate possible frost damage. Some will prune later to help delay budbreak and minimize the risk to those shoots, while others will double prune. Finally, as that luscious green grass grows in the vineyard, farmers will mow. While cover crops hold moisture, they also prevent the soil from absorbing and holding heat, so it becomes necessary to mow the ground cover before the frost-prone weather.

Regardless, most farmers right now are watching, waiting and hoping that the predicted drop in temperatures will pass them by, and leave their vineyards and crops to thrive. As you drive around Lodi and the surrounding area, really give all of those vines and trees a second look. They’re all beginning to work to produce what the San Joaquin Valley is famous for…our varied bounty of fresh veggies, fruits and agricultural products.

 

Time Posted: Apr 2, 2023 at 8:35 PM Permalink to Bud break Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
November 10, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

A toast to... Serendipity!

My story begins in 2013, when my middle daughter graduated from Cal Berkeley. Both my partner and I purchased a bottle of our favorite méthode champenoise sparkling wine [Champagne] from two different wine shops and brought them with us for the celebration. Popping one, then the other, we soon discovered that both bottles weren’t of the caliber that we’d expected, so given that my partner is a winemaker, we poured them out. Yep, oh yes, it hurt.

I’ve always loved French-style Champagne [although in California, the méthode champenoise style is referred to as sparkling wine], and because in my youth money was tight, we consumed it infrequently. Still, I did, do, have my favorite brand and varietal. There’s nothing like an exquisite bottle of French-style Champagne: layers of lovely aromas, tiny bubbles, and a creamy, velvety mouthfeel on your palate.

I grew up in a vineyard as did my partner, so while I’m comfortable in ‘n around grapes, winemaking was foreign to me, and I confess that I had my preconceived notions. Okay, really, I didn’t appreciate all that goes into that bottle of sparkling wine and figured that anyone could make wine. After we poured out both bottles, I did what I do best, I inserted both feet into my mouth.

While I understand that every vintage is going to be different: varied rainfall [or none now], number of days between 85F – 94F [prime growing temp], and the number of frosts during the winter months that allow those vines to ‘sleep.’ I didn’t grasp the complexities that go into an exceptional bottle of sparkling wine, or any wine. So, I said, “You know, if you were really a good winemaker, you could make a consistently exceptional bottle of Champagne.” “I mean, really, think about it. Beer is made from hops, and yet beer is the same from week to week, month to month, and year to year.”

Challenge issued, although I didn’t know it at the time. We had a lovely celebratory dinner at a local restaurant with several nice bottles of still wine. And life moved on, until 2014, when my partner approached me and told me that he wanted to try to make an exceptional Champagne. Huh?!?

Two of our children were done with college/masters’ degrees, and the third was entrenched at U.C. Davis. We were so close to getting all our debts paid off and, umm, retiring, or at least downsizing.  So, I did what my partner always did to me when I came up with some unusual idea and said, “Okay, where’s your plan?” Yeah, like that was going to dissuade him.

He came back to me the next day with a budget and some projections written down on a piece of binder paper [which I still have taped on the wall above our shared desk at home]. In 2014, we harvested our first vintage of Chardonnay from our home ranch and produced a méthode champenoise [French-style Champagne]. In the beginning, we were fortunate to enlist the assistance of a wonderful French winemaker in Lake County, Gerald Ployez.

We spent a lot of time driving up ‘n down the highway to Ployez Winery, tasting, making critical decisions, and waiting for just the right moment. After several years, we gathered family and friends together at our Thanksgiving table to taste the outcome of our initial foray into the world of méthode champenoise sparkling wine. I still remember my first sip of our Serendipity Sparkling Wine. Tiny mesmerizing bubbles, layers of brioche and green apple on the nose, and the taste, exquisite. We had something special. 

In the end, I learned that true winemaking is an artform. It is indeed something to be celebrated and every vintage is unique, a testament to Mother Nature, the farmer, and the winemaker. It is truly a collaborative effort.

*Oh, and by the way, that budget that I was presented with in 2014, yep, we blew that budget out of the water during the first nine months of our new business.

We’ve moved on to other vintages, but I was able to hold back one partial cage of our very first vintage—2014. It has remained in a wooden crate on the yeast since that first harvest, and we recently riddled and disgorged it. We’ve only now released this Reserve Tirage Blanc de Blanc to the public and invite you to purchase a bottle of this very special sparkling wine. 

There are only 200 bottles, and each one is hand numbered. Once they’re sold, there will be no more of the vintage that started it all. I confess that in my heart, this will always be the best bottle of sparkling wine.  It truly is exceptional, and I believe that you’ll agree… sometimes a serendipitous moment presents itself when you least expect it.

A toast to Serendipity!

Time Posted: Nov 10, 2022 at 4:20 PM Permalink to A toast to... Serendipity! Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
November 4, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

A toast to a special collaboration... Serendipity

My story begins in 2013, when my middle daughter graduated from Cal Berkeley. Both my partner and I purchased a bottle of our favorite méthode champenoise sparkling wine [Champagne] from two different wine shops and brought them with us for the celebration. Popping one, then the other, we soon discovered that both bottles weren’t of the caliber that we’d expected, so given that my partner is a winemaker, we poured them out. Yep, oh yes, it hurt.

I’ve always loved French-style Champagne [although in California, the méthode champenoise style is referred to as sparkling wine], and because in my youth money was tight, we consumed it infrequently. Still, I did, do, have my favorite brand and varietal. There’s nothing like an exquisite bottle of French-style Champagne: layers of lovely aromas, tiny bubbles, and a creamy, velvety mouthfeel on your palate.

Growing up on a vineyard,  I’m comfortable in ‘n around grapes, but winemaking was foreign to me, and I confess that I had my preconceived notions. Okay, really, I didn’t appreciate all that goes into that bottle of sparkling wine and figured that anyone could make wine. After we poured out both bottles, I did what I do best, I inserted both feet into my mouth.

While I understand that every vintage is going to be different: varied rainfall [or none now], number of days between 85F – 94F [prime growing temp], and the number of frosts during the winter months that allow those vines to ‘sleep.’ I didn’t grasp the complexities that go into the creation of an  exceptional bottle of sparkling wine, or any wine. So, I said, “You know, if you were really a good winemaker, you could make a consistently exceptional bottle of Champagne.” “I mean, really, think about it. Beer is made from hops, and yet beer is the same from week to week, month to month, and year to year.”

Challenge issued, although I didn’t know it at the time. We had a lovely celebratory dinner at a local restaurant with several nice bottles of still wine. And life moved on, until 2014, when my partner approached me and told me that he wanted to try to make an exceptional Champagne. Huh?!?

Two of our children were done with college/masters’ degrees, and the third was entrenched at U.C. Davis. We were so close to getting all our debts paid off and, umm, retiring, or at least downsizing.  So, I did what my partner always did to me when I came up with some unusual idea and said, “Okay, where’s your plan?” Yeah, like that was going to dissuade him.

He came back to me the next day with a budget and some projections written down on a piece of binder paper [which I still have taped on the wall above our shared desk at home]. In 2014, we harvested our first vintage of Chardonnay from our home ranch and produced a méthode champenoise [French-style Champagne]. In the beginning, we were fortunate to enlist the assistance of a wonderful French winemaker in Lake County, Gerald Ployez.

We spent a lot of time driving up ‘n down the highway to Ployez Winery, tasting, making critical decisions, and waiting for just the right moment to disgorge the wine. After several years, we gathered family and friends together at our Thanksgiving table to taste the outcome of our initial foray into the world of méthode champenoise sparkling wine. I still remember my first sip of our Serendipity Sparkling Wine. Tiny mesmerizing bubbles, layers of brioche and green apple on the nose, and the taste, exquisite. Everyone at that table knew that we  had something special. 

In the end, I learned that true winemaking is akin to an artform. It is something to be celebrated and every vintage is unique, a testament to Mother Nature, the farmer, and the winemaker. It is truly a collaborative effort.

*Oh, and by the way, that budget that I was presented with in 2014, yep, we blew that budget out of the water during the first nine months of our new business. 

We’ve moved on to other vintages now, but I was able to hold back one partial cage of our very first vintage—2014. It has remained in a wooden crate on the yeast since that first harvest, and we recently riddled and disgorged it. We’ve only now released this Reserve Tirage Blanc de Blanc to the public and invite you to purchase a bottle of this very special sparkling wine. 

There are only 200 bottles, and each one is hand numbered. Once they’re sold, there will be no more of the vintage that started it all. I confess that in my heart, this will always be the best bottle of sparkling wine.  It is noteworthy, and I believe that you’ll agree… sometimes a serendipitous moment presents itself when you least expect it.  Fortunately, we jumped and never looked back.

A toast to a special collaboration... Serendipity!

Time Posted: Nov 4, 2022 at 8:00 PM Permalink to A toast to a special collaboration... Serendipity Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
August 1, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

Our winemaker says, “It’s time!”

The other morning, as the sun was changing the color of the sky, I got up, padded outside, and as I took my first sip of hot tea, I felt it… that first kiss of fall. Yes, I know, it’s still hot. Yes, I know that it’s still officially summer, but trust me, you could feel it in the air.

If you’re in agriculture, specifically grapes, you can feel and smell harvest. There’s a cooling in the morning air, and a sweet smell as those beautiful grapes soak up the sun and water, ripening on the vine and hanging below the leaf line. They’re dazzling in the morning light and a treat to watch as they ready themselves for fall.

Harvest is exciting. For farmers, it’s the culmination of a year’s worth of work, and once those grapes are off the vine, we breathe a sigh of relief, and then begin the work of preparing for the next season. But for vintners, it’s the beginning of an intriguing, beguiling and even daunting ride. Once those grapes are in their hands, figuratively and literally, the artistic endeavor begins… creating an exceptional bottle of wine that will be shared, savored and enjoyed.

Grape harvest for méthode champenoise sparkling wine [also known as French-style champagne] begins significantly earlier than those grapes harvested for still wines. Sparkling wine grapes must be harvested when sugar levels are low [sweetness comes from sucrose in the grapes and is measured in Brix], and acidity is high. This ensures that that crisp acidity is maintained in the finished wine.

Our winemaker began sampling grapes at the end of June. Early in the morning, often before the sun rose, he headed out into the vineyard and collected sample grapes, then tested the sugar levels in order to monitor their progress. Not only did he randomly select grapes for testing, but he tasted them, often stating that although the sugar level may indicate that the grapes were ready, “The taste isn’t there yet.” 

A grape can be sweet, but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily ripe. Ripeness means that the seeds, skin and stems are ripe. The seeds will taste less bitter and the color changes, which results in the grapes deemed to be “ripe” for harvesting. A skilled winemaker is a true artisan and can walk down a row and know whether those grapes are ready. When the taste is there, harvest begins.

Grapes are generally harvested at night here in Lodi. This is because the fruit is cooler, the sugar levels are stable, and winemakers can maintain better control over the primary fermentation process. Daytime temperatures during this time of year can change the sugar composition of the grapes, so the lower nighttime temperatures result in a better wine, lower energy costs and provide for greater efficiency.

To go one further, keeping grapes cooler protects the delicate flavors, skins and pulp. Heat can, in effect, “cook” the fruit and make the resulting wine flabby, destroying the important acidity needed for our bubbles. But when harvested under ideal conditions, the result are grapes that remain clean and fresh. You can taste the difference in the juice even before it’s made into wine. 

Once the grapes are harvested, they’ll quickly be transported to the winery, where they’ll be pressed, not crushed, to limit the contact between the skin and juice. A pneumatic press, which has a large, plastic balloon will gradually inflate and gently break the grape skins. Juice will slowly drain into a pan beneath the press, rotating to get every drop of juice. The press turns, inflates again and again, ultimately leaving a pile of dry skins and seeds. The Chardonnay juice, free run, will retain the pure, Chardonnay characteristics, allowing our winemakers to create an exceptional wine.

If you ever get the chance to visit a winery during crush, the smell permeating the air is heavenly. The juice running off those perfect Chardonnay grapes is crisp, rich and dances across your tongue. It’s a delightful experience for your senses. Did I mention that harvest is exciting?!?

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2022 at 3:08 PM Permalink to Our winemaker says, “It’s time!” Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
July 1, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

Summer in the vineyard

Now that the school year has ended, and families have begun their vacation plans, vineyards are ramping up their summer season with a lengthy list of tasks that must be performed—now—in order to keep the vines healthy and ensure a robust harvest.

The vines are now producing vigorous growth, and this often requires canopy management to balance that vine growth with the healthy opportunity for ripening those grapes. Some vineyards will hedge or trim shoots and leaves to prevent overshading of the grape clusters, ensuring that the vines’ energy isn’t wasted on the canopy. For many vineyards, most of this hedging or leaf pulling is done by hand. Lest you think that this is easy, it’s not. The goal is to pull the less productive leaves, allowing for better ventilation of those bunches of grapes on the north or east side of the row. On the west or south side, it’s important to maintain adequate leaf cover to minimize sunburn on the grapes.

Suckers are another distraction for the vines, which take nutrition away without producing any grapes. This process, too, is carried out by hand. Much like we pull off stray shoots on our trees, we travel up ‘n down the rows, pulling off shoots that grow out from the vine, generally around the base. Known as suckers, these are removed in late spring, early summer, and often must be done twice during the season, depending upon how proliferate the vines are during the growth season.

Of course, there are weeds, always, and depending upon the type, they too can take nourishment away from the vines. Generally, we avoid chemical products and simply mow in between the rows. This allows the plant matter to decompose and return nutritional elements back into the soil. Weeds and grasses directly under the vines can draw moisture and nutrition away from the fruit, so they have to be removed. If left uncontrolled, these weeds and grasses can complicate harvest efforts. For those weeds and grasses next to the vines, they must be removed by hand, using a good old-fashioned hoe.

During the warm summer months, insects can likewise become a problem, especially sucking insects that can damage the grapes and/or carry infectious diseases to the vines, in some instances killing the entire vineyard. Most vineyard managers are out in the vineyard daily, checking vines and observing areas that could quickly become a site of infestation. A good viticulturist knows their vineyard and can easily tell you where problem areas are located and what they watch for throughout the season. This comes from walking the rows, checking the vines and becoming familiar with all aspects of their field.

And as temperatures soar, keeping those vines properly irrigated is critical to not only the harvest, but the long-term health of the vines. Most vineyards today are equipped with drip irrigation systems. This allows the precious water to only penetrate the soil next to the vine, minimizing evaporative loss, yet allowing the water to seep down directly to the roots. 

Fail to provide enough water to a thirsty vine, and the result will be unbalanced vine growth, reduced yield and poor fruit quality. Depending upon the varietal, the leaves may droop or curl, canopy growth will certainly slow, and in some varieties, the fruit may begin to shrivel. And when the temperatures hit 95 degrees or higher, the grapes tend to shut down, and go into survival mode. The vine effectively shuts down the grape’s photosynthesis, which causes the fruit to stop ripening. At this point, it becomes critical to keep those vines hydrated by watering.

Vineyard managers closely watch the temperature shifts during the summer months, anticipating upcoming hot spells, monitoring the health of the vines and checking on the ripening fruit. Temperature and light play a key role in fruit development. Once the grapes hit veraison [or the ripening phase], the grape berries will become softer, accumulate sugar, acids decline, and the color appears in red or purple fruit. Studies have shown that very high temperatures during the ripening phase reduce the key enzymes responsible for the coloration of fruit; thus, the need for those beautiful canopies—protecting those grape bunches during the summer heat.

So, while you’re out enjoying any number of great summer activities, there will be folks in and around Lodi toiling out among the vines—watching, protecting and ensuring that when it’s time for this year’s harvest, those grapes will be at their peak, and the vines will remain healthy for another year. Remember to raise a glass and thank those folks for helping to create that beautiful wine that you’re about to sip ‘n savor. Salute!

Time Posted: Jul 1, 2022 at 10:50 AM Permalink to Summer in the vineyard Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
June 1, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

Wine Tasting 101

If you’re new to wine tasting, the time is perfect to venture out and visit one of Lodi’s many wine tasting rooms and sample a flight. It’s getting warm, and it’s the perfect weather to enjoy a beautiful white wine—chilled, crisp and, a delightful surprise for your palate!

Wine tasting is a sensory experience. It involves sight, smell, mouth feel and taste. And each of your senses plays a significant role in how you not only perceive the wine, but whether you wind up taking that second taste, or even buying a bottle to take home. So, if you’re ready, here are a few tips.

Call ahead. While many local wineries accept drop in visitors, it’s always best to call ahead and book a reservation. This allows the winery to let you know if they have any policies that you might not be aware of and ensures that you’ll have a good visit. If a winery is booked at a particular time, you may not get the level of educational service that you’d like, and quite honestly, most tasting room staff know the wines on site and can provide you with a wealth of information.

Ask questions. Tasting room staff will be happy to share insights regarding the wines that they’re pouring—as well as they’re favorite(s) and why. Many have been into the production facility or even the vineyards and can tell you about harvest or even what it’s like during bottling.

Our staff have hand-picked grapes, worked the bottling line and tasted right out of the barrel and/or tanks during fermentation. They’ve become a part of our family and can speak with pride regarding a particular varietal or vintage.

Tasting conditions. You’ll gain the most from your wine tasting experience if you set the stage for success. Pick a table or location where you can concentrate and there aren’t any competing aromas or distractions. *Don’t wear perfume or cologne. Perfumes, strong food smells, etc., will hamper your ability to get a good sense of what the wine’s aroma is, and isn’t. Likewise, make sure that your glass is clean. If you’re sampling more than one wine. You need to condition your glass by giving it a quick rinse with a small amount of wine, not water, swirling it around to cover all sides of the glass.

Enjoy the color. Hold your glass up to the light and notice the color. A wine that looks clear and brilliant is a good sign. A white wine that looks tawny or has a tinge of brown may be older, not necessarily bad, but something that you should be aware of before you purchase a case. White wines range in color from pale yellow [straw] to light gold, all the way to deep gold. 

Smell. Each wine has a distinct aroma, and that aroma is specific not only to the varietal, but the specific wine in your glass. I enjoy taking a sniff before I swirl the wine for the first time. Just hover over the glass and take a short sniff. Think about what flavors you smell based upon your knowledge of what you’re familiar with—citrus [lemon, lime, orange], grass [herbs], grapefruit, stone fruit [peach, pear, nectarine, apricot, apple], tropical fruit [pineapple, mango kiwi, passion fruit], honey, minerals [think wet earth, wet asphalt], or floral [flower smells from light white flowers to fragrant roses].

Now swirl the wine in the glass and take additional short sniffs as your nose hovers over the glass. You’ll notice a difference in that first sniff and the sniff that you take after you swirl the wine. Swirling the wine releases different aroma compounds found within that wine. These compounds are so small that they literally float on the evaporating alcohol directly into our noses. The aroma is a large part of wine enjoyment, don’t believe me, plug your nose and taste the wine. All the aromas of fruit will disappear and the true taste [sour, bitter, sweet, and salty], as well as the texture of the wine will remain in isolation from the aromas. Not the same experience!

Taste, it’s fun. Take a small sip, not a large swallow, of wine into your mouth and try sucking on it as if you’re pulling it through a straw. This aerates the wine and circulates it throughout your mouth. You’ll get a better sense of the wine as will the taste buds on your tongue. Now you’re using your taste to determine if the wine is balanced, complex, evolved and complete. A balanced wine should have an even mix of flavors.

If a wine is too sour, too sugary, too astringent, too hot [alcoholic], too bitter, or too flabby [lack of acidity], then it’s not a well-balanced wine.

And when you hear folks talking about complexity, these are the wines that have layers. They change with each sip. The more you sip them [tiny sips], the more there is to taste; basically, layer upon layer of flavors. 

Pause and notice how long the flavor lingers in your mouth after you swallow. As beginners, we tend to move on too quickly to the next sip or the next wine. Don’t. Take the time to sit with the wine, swirl, smell ‘n sip. Don’t hurry a complex wine, otherwise you’ll miss out on the layers of beautiful surprises that await your palate.

• Spit. Really, it’s okay. Quite honestly, if you’re serious about tasting the wines, then you can’t drink every drop of every wine in the flight and get anything from the experience. *Most wineries will have spittoons available so that you can pour the wine out. Remember, tasting wine is a sensory experience, not a competition. Do it at your own pace, taste what you like, and don’t force it. If you don’t like a particular wine, that’s fine, it’s your unique palate. But do give that varietal another try at a later date, you might be surprised.

• Eat. Don’t go to two or three wineries and taste without eating food. Some wineries offer snacks, others will let you bring outside food into your tasting to elevate your experience. Charcuterie [shar-KOO-ta-REE-] boards or boxes are a delicious way to enhance your experience and may include any combination of cured meats, cheese, crackers, nuts, dried or fresh fruits and dipping sauces.

Beginning July 1, guests at Nostra Vita Family Winery will have the option of ordering a charcuterie box when they make a reservation for a tasting flight. We truly believe that the charcuterie food items will serve to enhance the flavors of the wines on our flight menus. Order one and determine for yourself as to how they add to your tasting experience! 

 

Time Posted: Jun 1, 2022 at 12:00 AM Permalink to Wine Tasting 101 Permalink
Leslie Bloudoff
 
May 2, 2022 | Leslie Bloudoff

Wine tasting: a unique experience

Many people take wine tasting seriously, and I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t, but I know that there are those of us who are intimidated by the entire tasting process. What if I ask the wrong question? What if I don’t smell or taste what everyone else is smelling and tasting? What if I don’t like what everyone else is loving?

Your unique sense of taste and smell are what make each of us individuals, and winemakers often tailor wines to a broad range of palates, and sometimes, they miss. This means that if you consider yourself uninformed or a beginner, this is great news! Now is the perfect time to grab a friend, or two, and check out a winery right here in the Lodi area.

Wineries want you to feel comfortable. We want you to look at the color of the wine, take in the aroma, swirl, sniff, taste, and if you don’t like it on that first taste, give it one more chance. But life is too short to drink something that you don’t like, or don’t want.  Do be willing to try different wines, more than once before you write it off. Like everything else in life, your tastes will change over time, and maybe even with the season, so be open, but never feel that you should like a wine simply because someone else does.

This month, we decided to poll our colleagues in arms here at Nostra Vita Family Winery, and asked them, “Which is your favorite NV wine and why?” Then we queried, “Where’s your favorite place to sip ‘n savor?” Here’s what those who make and serve the wine had to say.

 

• Robert Indelicato [vice president, winemaker]: “My favorite NV wine changes throughout the year. One wine that I’m really liking is our 2020 Chardonnay. It has gotten some rest in the bottle, and it’s showing layers of fruit and complexity.”

“I enjoy drinking wines on the patio along with some prosciutto and melon. Hmmm!”

 

• Tim Cook [asst. cellar door manager]: “Blanc de Blanc. I have the best memories drinking it with friends, and now every time that I drink it, the fun times that I had come to mind.”

“Outside on the patio at home, where I can watch the creek, enjoy the flowers and hummingbirds. And I always share with friends.”

 

• Jan Klevan [cellar door guide]: “Right now it’s our Cabernet Sauvignon. It is so silky and smooth. I enjoy every sip!”

“And my perfect place to sip is the beach. Any type of weather, but at the beach.”

 

 Sergio Hurtado-Arroyo [asst. cellar master]: “I really enjoy the Red Envy. It’s a well put together blend with great taste on the palate.”

“I enjoy sipping out on the loggia with friends and food.”

 

• John White [sales]: “My favorite is our Blanc de Blanc. It’s elegant and drinkable anytime, anywhere, especially paired with our favorite dishes.”

“I enjoy sipping it with my wife in our backyard on a warm evening.”

 

• Hayden Sparks [sales}: “Carignane, because of its ability to be consumed with ease in any situation.”

 

• Anisa Keyser [cellar door manager]: “My favorite Nostra Vita wine is the 2018 Blanc de Blanc. It’s a perfect balance between crisp and creamy. It does well with any meal of the day: breakfast, lunch or dinner!”

“My favorite place to sip is wrapped in a blanket in bed watching movies.”

 

• Mia King [social media/event coordinator]: “Sparkling rosé! Because it’s beautiful in the glass, it smells divine, and tastes like a summer day. I always find a reason to celebrate when I’m drinking sparkling rosé.”

“My favorite place to taste is on the beach.”

 

• Kyle Bloudoff-Indelicato [asst. winemaker]: “My favorite wine is the Blanc de Noir. It’s austere, clean, and mineral, a lot like the Blanc de Blanc, but with a fuller mouthfeel and supple stone fruit aroma.”

 

“I love tasting on the Nostra Vita patio. It’s very calm and relaxing, a home away from home. Otherwise, I do my tasting in my backyard with my family while we barbecue some vegetables and salmon filets.”

 

• Chad Osborne [cellar door guide]: “Blanc de Blanc! It’s dry and creamy, and the bubbly finish is what I love about it. I always thought of it as if the bubbles were pop-rocks on the palate. I also love the Bella Blanca for its lighter and sweeter taste. Anything that has hints of citrus is a plus for me. It makes me feel like I’m by the beach or poolside.”

 

“I love sipping at our winery. A nice sunset makes me feel at home.”

 

• Katie Bloudoff-Indelicato [sales manager]: “I love the Nostra Vita Petite Sirah. I bring it to every dinner party, and I have three friends that wait anxiously for the release every year. It’s got beautiful fruit, and a wonderful balance of tannin and oak aging. It literally goes with every meat dish. My last dinner was lamb cutlets with Nostra Vita Petite Sirah, and it was a huge hit.”

 

“I don’t have a specific place I enjoy tasting but tasting with friends is the best!”

 

• Leslie Bloudoff: “As for what I favor, it varies from season to season, what I’m eating, who I’m drinking with, or even what I’m doing. Right now, this spring, I think our 2020 Viognier is delicious—both for the aroma and the taste. Take a deep whiff and enjoy the citrusy aroma with notes of apricot and pear. The taste—vibrant, rich, well rounded and quite honestly, the perfect addition to any meal, or simply on its own.”

 

“I love sipping wine outdoors, relaxing out in the middle of nowhere, or, tucked into a chair, reading a book, or listening to the wind ‘n the birds. A perfect way to spend an afternoon.”

Time Posted: May 2, 2022 at 3:26 PM Permalink to Wine tasting: a unique experience Permalink Comments for Wine tasting: a unique experience Comments (1)
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